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ESOS a step closer to action

The Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) reached its latest milestone with the publication of the first professional bodies approved to provide lead assessors. Organisations can now take the next steps towards compliance.

ESOS requires UK firms to undertake energy efficiency assessments and identify potential energy savings. The deadline for determining whether or not it applies is 31 December, with compliance by 5 December 2015.

ESOS applies to UK organisations that have 250 or more employees. It also applies to those with fewer than 250 employees, but an annual turnover of more than €50m and an annual balance sheet of more than €43m.

At least 90% of total energy consumption must be audited across buildings, transport and industrial processes.

A lead assessor must be appointed to oversee the energy audits and the overall ESOS assessment, and they must be members of an approved professional body. The audits should:

  • review energy data, data management and how energy is used;
  • identify any energy-saving opportunities, their estimated costs and the benefits of implementing them;
  • include site visits and be based on 12 months’ verifiable data; and
  • be reviewed and signed off by the lead assessor as well as at company board level.

Compliance needs to be notified to the Environment Agency.

However, an organisation can take a mix of approaches and opt for its energy consumption to be covered by ISO 50001, Display Energy Certificates (DECs)/Green Deal Assessments (GDAs) or ESOS energy audits. If an organisation is covered by ISO 50001, it doesn’t need to carry out an ESOS assessment. Although DECs are an option, they are based on a building’s operating data only – so energy use in transport and any industrial processes will still have to be audited separately.

Alternatively, GDAs can be used. Like DECs, however, they only apply to buildings.

Many organisations will need external help. They will be looking for a range of cost-effective support services – possibly on a ‘pick and mix’ basis. This could include:

  • pre-assessment gap analysis;
  • provision of a lead assessor;
  • development of a strategy, including the cost benefits, pay-back periods and feasibility of any energy-saving opportunities
  • preparation and maintenance of an evidence pack to substantiate the audits, their findings and the recommendations;
  • building a business case for investment in energy efficiency opportunities, including their funding and practicality; or
  • a combination of any of the above.

Inevitably, ESOS compliance involves additional costs. Although there’s no legal requirement to implement any energy-saving recommendations, firms are encouraged to do so on the basis that any costs will be outweighed by the long-term financial benefits derived from reduced energy bills and increased efficiency.

Malcolm Hanna is technical director at the National Energy Foundation

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